Showing posts from January, 2011

The Weekend That Was

I got so busy gigging and sleeping that I was unable to blog!

Early last week, I got the set lists for the weekend's gigs.  After enduring a few weeks where I felt totally directionless on stage, I decided that I was going to be very prepared.  I set out practicing everything--no surprises!

Thursday:  A really good night at the 10 High.  Nick picked a great set list, and we were on it.  We had a good mix of oldies and new stuff, and the crowd was more responsive than any other Thursday in January.

Right before we started, the little voice in my head threw me a curve ball--what if I was so prepared to play the gig, I couldn't focus on playing, and instead spaced out?  Hmm.  Fortunately, it never happened.  I felt really good about everything.  Greatest American Hero was the second song in, and I nailed the synth thing in the bridge!  Woo!

Friday:  We returned to 8 Traxx Disco (Andrews Upstairs).  Sold it out--six hundred forty people, I think?  They pre-sell five hundred and the…

Big Weekend!

Friday:  The big XTC/Sgt. Peppers/Dark Side show at the Variety Playhouse!  It was very cool to play a gig without a wig.

We were all pleasantly surprised to see a pretty full (700+) room on Friday night.  All the work that had gone into learning that music deserved a good audience, and we got it.  Very cool!

The efforts of Cobb, Bencuya, and Nick were amazing--the three of them played a TON of music.  Not one of their heads exploded.  Dannells carried a ton of (musical) weight in The Dark Side of the Moon, and was brilliant throughout (even if he's still pissed about the solo in Time).  Every solo on that album is a classic (and David Gilmour's stuff is always so melodic that it sticks in your ear!), and Dannells' tone and technique were spot on.  My hero!

For my part, I was mostly just reading charts and trying to stay in tune.  I don't know if the charts are the problem or what, but for me the gig felt more like a sideman than a part of the band, and I couldn't…

My Mojo Returneth

I'm finally all the way back from the funk that has plagued me for the past few weeks!  I felt good and confident about everything I played last night.  It's about time.

We had a great gig last night at the 10 High.  The crowd was pretty good--better than last week, but not overly enthusiastic about what we were doing.  Maybe it was the number of people out there, but I thought the onstage sound was much better, and that made a difference for me--who wants to do anything but go home when it sounds like crap.

Remember how I was working on picking up the bass part on Steal Away?  I listened to it this week--the piano/synth guy (my role on this song) doesn't do that at all!  Instead, the piano kind of doubles what the synth does.  Way easier.  Stupid me.

Earlier in the day we had a final rehearsal for the big show tonight at the Variety Playhouse.  This rehearsal concentrated on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.  We're adding a trombonist (Jill Freeman) to make …

Rehearsal and the Radio

We (Yacht Rock) had a Tuesday morning rehearsal for this Friday's big gig at the Variety Playhouse.  For this one, we focused on Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon.  It sounded great.  I don't remember what it sounded like the first time we played this album, but with the second guitar (Greg) and Nick playing more second keyboard, it's really happening.

Speaking of guitar--Mark Dannells was totally unprepared for rehearsal, and still pulled the entire album out of his butt.  You can do that when you're awesome.

I got most of my stuff right.  I screwed up a little on Money.

Wednesday morning we played on The Regular Guys show (Rock 100.5 FM).  We did Time (off The Dark Side of the Moon).  It sounded pretty good.  Dannells was beyond awesome.  Cobb's electronic drum pad took a shit in the corner.  I played the three measures the female vocalist contributed.  Here's my chart:

Pretty easy!

Sunday Sunday

Yesterday was Sunday, a day for performances in houses of worship.

The first gig was pretty cohesive.  It's finally coming together--no big disasters or anything.  They're limping towards everybody on in-ears, which would be cool.  Right now it's one monitor mix and a six channel headphone amp!  Not quite cool.  Somehow they've not been able to find a headphone extension long enough to reach the eight feet over to my position, so I get nothing, which really hasn't been that bad.  I'm playing acoustically against the piano and drums.  I'm told that eventually they'll start using an Aviom system, which would be sweet.

Speaking of sound, I don't know what the hell's going on with the sound at church gig number two.  The sound coming out of the board (listening with headphones) does not equal the sound coming out of the main speakers.  They've changed something between the jacks on the floor where I plug in and the PA.  My best guess is that th…


I played last night/this morning with Yacht Rock Schooner at Zydeco in Birmingham.  It's the first time we've played there.

The room itself was pretty crappy.  Low ceiling, hollow stage, plywood floor.  The sound was vastly different depending on where you were on stage--where I was (downstage left) was pretty good, but the drums and the opposite of the stage were evidently PAINFULLY loud and washy.  The hollow stage made for some weird low end harmonics.  It was just flat hard to hear for most of the guys in the band.  Actually, the dressing room behind the stage was probably the best place!  I hung out there on the tunes I wasn't playing, and I could hear everybody well.

The total number of people was around one hundred fifty.  I guess that's good for the first time--if they all tell two people, next time…they were pretty enthusiastic, though, which made up for it.  A big burly guy in the audience passed Mike Bielenberg a note that said "I love you."  The …

Of Ice and Gloves

I started Thursday with a trip downtown for a rehearsal.  Around fifteen minutes out, I got a call that it had been cancelled due to the icy conditions that still remain in parts of the city.

I took some pictures while I was sitting in traffic on I 75.

On the way home I stopped at Sam Ash and bought some reeds.  I grabbed a box of tenor reeds as well as some synthetic Legere reeds.  It seems silly, doesn't it?  All the technology that goes into building a modern horn--tone hole placement, metal alloys, corks vs felts, not to mention the insanity over mouthpieces--all the thousandths of an inch and the baffle shapes and tip rail thickness, and yet the sound all starts with a fickle piece of cane!  Why?

There was NOBODY in Sam Ash.  They didn't even have canned music playing in the store.  It was like I was a private shopper.

I made it all the way back home (approximately 40 miles round trip), only to get stuck trying to get back in my driveway!  Madness!  A neighbor and I spen…


I did my two church gigs yesterday.

First church gig was not what I thought it would be.  Since the leader is kind of a wuss, I kind of thought he would say something to me to try and smooth over the issue about the money, and I kind of thought I would bite his head off.  Neither happened.  I guess that's good…I mean, I still have a gig.  Afterwards the leader hung around a little bit, like he was looking for a moment to speak to one of us in the band, but I was talking to the sound man right up til the point when I walked out the door, so it must not have been me for whom he was waiting.

Chris Wilkes got into some Steve Gadd/Stuff kind of sounding thing on one tune that was pretty fun.

The second church gig was a kind of lame.  I'm not sure if the church changed the amplifier settings or what, but the sound was really weak.  The singers started complaining right from the get go.  I checked all my connections, checked to see that the sound was coming out of both speakers, and c…

Church Business

I'd like to give an update regarding one of my church gigs.

As you may recall from an earlier post, I found out that the musicians in the band are all making different amounts.  Let's say I've been making $A.  Someone else in the band is making 1.5 x $A.  Someone else in the band is making 2 x $A.  Not cool.  All three of us were surprised (and, of course, I was pissed!).

I sent the band leader an email Sunday afternoon in an attempt to get his side of the story:

Hey Xxxxx-
What's up with the money?  I heard that different members of the band are making different amounts, and I'm confused as to why we would not be paid equally.  
I would like to paid the same as everyone else.

I was hoping he'd have some sort of reason that could justify the fact that the guy next to me is making twice as much as I am.  Maybe:

1.  The other guys have been here longer
2.  They began at a higher rate
3.  They have hair


I had just asked for a raise in December…

And Then I Sucked Real Bad

I got a last minute call Wednesday afternoon to play a cocktail hour gig the next day.  I lined up two of my favorite guys, Tyrone Jackson and Kevin Smith.

The gig was ok.  I really didn't feel that good about, but listening to it today, it seems pretty good.  I guess it just didn't feel effortless--I was conscious of how many notes I was playing and how I was interacting with Tyrone and Kevin.  When it's really happening, I think that I just close my eyes and we musically fill in the blanks for each other.  
We started with Moontrane.  You'll notice the recording fades in--it's because I screwed up the in head, I had to cut it.  Normally I try not to doctor the evidence--I can (sort of) live with my mistakes, but the first thirty seconds of the gig was so horribly embarrassingly take-me-out-and-shoot-me bad that I would rather no one ever have to sit through it.
Beyond that, things were ok.  We were near a door, and now I hear how both horns rose in pitch over the co…

Sunday Fun

Chris Wilkes was back at the drum position for my early church gig this week.  What a relief!  He is excellent.  I really like the way he helps to shape the song--he has such a good ear for the form and dynamics, and his groove is solid.  It's funny to me that the sounds he gets such a better sound out of the same drum set I've heard the past few services.  I like playing with him a lot.

Our leader overslept this morning and showed up a half hour late.  While we were hanging out, I came to discover that we are all making different rates for the same gig.  I cannot understand why--I think, as a leader/contractor, you're asking for trouble!   It's a very difficult situation.  We'll see how it plays out.

I had really good reeds on all my horns this morning--one of those days when I probably played more than I should have because everything felt so good.

My gig Sunday night was a little ragged.  We had four singers, but none had a particularly strong voice.  It kind of…

New Year's Eve

Last gig of the year!  Yacht Rock ended the year at the Park Tavern.  Instead of upstairs in that hellish room that made me so miserable, we were downstairs.  They put carpet on top of the ice rink, and then put the usual stage up.  Weird…we were on an iceberg.  I didn't really notice it.  In fact, we sweated pretty good, all thing considered.

I did not play as well as the previous night.  My guess would be that the number of people made me uptight, or the fact that Bencuya was recording it.  I dunno.  The first tune was fine, except for a horrible wrong note I played--it was one of those things where I suddenly started thinking about what I was doing, and I couldn't think of the next note.  I looked at the keyboard, and just hoped I was going to hit the right key.  I was wrong.   And thus the mind games began!  The rest of the tune, I was thinking, "See!  You got the first mistake out of the way so you can relax!"

The next tune up was Believe it or Not, and so I go…